Food, Fasting and Faith
Faith - The Key to God's Smokehouse
Four times in the Bible – Habakkuk, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, we are told that "Now the just shall live by faith." Please read Hebrews 10:32 - 12:4 for this is the Pike's Peak of the Book. As I sit here and write this chapter, it looks to me like every door is closing and this is the most unusual experience in my twenty-six years of preaching. Yet inside there is a calm and a peace and an assurance. "My confidence in Jesus grows stronger every day, His grace I find sufficient to lead me in life's way." Therefore I cannot live under the circumstances or on what it looks like or seems like. That song keeps coming to me, even in this trying time and testing time – "The thing that you have prayed for is on its way and paid for." Oh, may God bless this chapter to my own soul, as well as yours, for the sake of the cause and the many ministries God has given us.
Communism, Catholicism, denominationalism, and modernism, with their feverish, futile and fatal efforts, are trying to take the place of a vital faith in a living God. Education, organization, reformation, amalgamation, and unionization are just as hopeless. The peace parleys and United Nations Conferences, the big talk of the National Council of Churches, are just as helpless as Ponce de Leon was in looking for the land of perpetual youth.
Faith lives in the high tower. Paul said to the Ephesian Church, "Above
all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all
the fiery darts of the wicked." That old four star general who could
prove his faith by his scars said, "I have fought a good fight, I have
finished my course, I have kept the faith." Faith was his crowning
virtue. Even though he lost his head, he kept his faith. In the first place,
let me say that faith is not wishing, wanting, trying, hoping, striving, or
even waiting. Most of these are enemies of real Bible faith. Let me give you
some thirty things that came to me this afternoon concerning faith.
Thirty Thoughts on Faith
"If you had been living when Christ was on earth,
And had met the Saviour kind,
What would you have asked Him to do for you,
Supposing you were stone blind ?"
The child considered, and then replied,
"I expect that, without doubt,
I'd have asked for a dog, with a collar and chain,
To lead me daily about."
Brother Roloff's Testimony
Now, let me bear a personal testimony that I trust and pray will encourage God's people. My life of faith began one Wednesday night as I lay a very sick young man in the hall of that old ranch house in Navarro County in Central Texas. About ten o'clock that night I said, "Lord, if you're calling me to preach, I'll preach," and God gave me a real taste of peaceful sleep that I had not known in months. It was during the Great Depression and the times seemed impossible. After staying out of school a year following high school graduation and picking cotton in West Texas, I went off to Baylor University. I took my old milk cow to furnish milk for my board and room, and I had to guarantee three gallons a day. That was a step of faith!
My body was weakly and sick and one of the outstanding doctors in Waco recommended that I beat it back to the farm. However, my real ministry of faith did not begin until about eighteen years later when I began to take the Bible literally and believe that it meant what it said for today. It was about that time that I started reading it through each year on my knees and started believing God for my physical needs as well as the needs of the ministries into which he had led me.
Faith allows many tears and testings, but never puts up with a compromise. Faith constantly cuts away temporary pilings and is continually settling us on the pillars of eternal truth. Faith permits loneliness and heartaches and many misunderstandings. Faith is a pioneer. It keeps its subject constantly in the new ground. Faith is the Marine leathernecks making new beachheads. Faith demands a tough hide and a tender heart and a saw log for a backbone. Faith longs for only one thing, and that's the vindication of the Word of God.
We went on a two hundred and fifty watt radio station and got kicked off a few months later because we preached against liquor traffic, but the next day, we went on a fifty thousand watt station. Our church building burned down, known as the Park Avenue Baptist Church, six months after we bad been in Corpus Christi, and through much pressure and misunderstanding, we purchased the Furman Avenue site for fifty-five thousand dollars and built the Second Baptist Church.
There was a big corner of the property that belonged to the Sinclair Refining Company and we were hoping at a later date to get that when one morning my men came into the study and said, "They have started drilling holes for a Sinclair service station on the corner of our property," suggesting that it was too late to do anything. I said, "Let's pray." After prayer, I called New York City to Mr. Harry Sinclair's office and told them how disappointed we were and how much we had desired to have that property. At eleven o'clock, the men walked off of the job. And we bought another piece of property for fifteen thousand dollars and traded even with them for the property for which they had asked twenty-two thousand dollars. Oh, that was a real answer from heaven!
The old Park Avenue site that I was sincerely hoping to use for a day school was sold one night at the deacons' meeting while I was speaking at another church in town. When I went back to the deacons' meeting that had just concluded, one of the deacons told me that he knew I would be disappointed, but that the property was sold because they needed the money. The property consisted of 150' on Park Avenue, 250' on King Street with two houses, a two story garage, and a nice building that we called the Brotherhood Building. It had been sold for fifteen thousand dollars. But the next fall, through the kindness of Dr. Logan, we fixed up the old Brotherhood Building and started a Christian Day School with a kindergarten and first grade and, over a period of years, bought all that property and built the big brick building, over a hundred feet long, which housed the school and the Enterprises offices. It all seems like a dream and yet, simply a work of faith and labor of love.
May I right here say that this venture of faith was made possible through the patience, love, and confidence of Brothers Ben and Dale Davis. In thirty-seven years, the Park Avenue Day School was responsible for leading over a thousand people to Christ, teaching many precious children, and furnishing a place of service for consecrated teachers.
After seven years of a glorious Gospel ministry in the Second Baptist Church, and with a human desire to stay twenty years, the Lord, one night under Evangelist B. B. Crim's tent at Cuero, gave the order to cut loose and hit the trail of tent evangelism, a thing I had almost despised. And so, without a house to live in and without any money, we launched into a new ministry.
In just a little while, the Lord spoke to a layman in the Rio Grande Valley and told him to send us four thousand dollars as a loan for a down payment on a little frame home at 429 Naples Street in Corpus Christi. We paid back the loan in five years. He spoke to the friends of evangelism and our ministry, and in a little while, we had thirty thousand dollars worth of vans, a tent, and portable equipment which we used for over ten years.
Faith will allow no competition to Christ or the Word. "It is not mine to question the judgments of the Lord. It is but mine to follow the leading of His Word." When one questions the Word of God, the wisdom of God, or the goodness of God, he is immediately off of faith ground. When one begins to whine and murmur, complain and doubt, he is off the good old faith line. When one spends his time enumerating what he had to give up in order to live by faith instead of what he got by living by faith, he has missed the trail.
In 1944, one night in the deacons' meeting, I asked the deacons if they would be willing for me to launch out by faith on a fifty thousand watt radio station, fifteen minutes a day, five days a week. They said they would if I would have it understood that they would be released from any financial obligation. God honored that step of faith and it was not long until we were on six days a week for thirty minutes, and Sunday afternoon for one hour. But after eight years of glorious ministry and the building of a wonderful audience, we were told that we could no longer preach on this station because we were controversial. This was the severest and most sickening disappointment of our entire life.
Without a root of bitterness or a spirit of criticism, I relate this incident because I can see that Romans 8: 28 had its plow in the ground and also Philippians 1:12, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel," even though it looked like we were in a complete blackout. Lifetime friends and schoolmates left us over night. This decision of the brethren was made public by the associated press in the newspapers and also in our church publications.
I was on the road in evangelism when the word reached me. I shall never forget the day in Henderson, Texas, when I made the announcement to the radio friends, with many tears. After the message, Mike Garcia, the Latin-American friend who traveled with me and watched the tent for a number of years, put his arms about me and pointed to the heavens and in broken English said, "Our Father will help Brother Roloff." I knew full well that He was the only one who could help me in that time of darkness.
Two years later, the station was sold and an unbeliever in Christ came and asked me if I would like to go back on to which I said, "Yes." So, for two more years we preached the Gospel, to be disappointed again by a letter saying the station was going to "total programming," which left the Gospel off. More time elapsed and I walked into the office of one of the owners and made request to go back on.
Now, in the meantime, I had to go to Alice, forty-five miles away, and Sinton, twenty-eight miles away, in order to have a radio ministry in my home town. The friend said they would like to have my contract and I agreed to borrow the money for a year's time in advance, but after weeks of waiting and no word, I walked into the studio and asked the reason why. I received this answer, "I'm sorry, but we have four beer accounts and they all said if you went on they would go off, therefore we must have their accounts instead of yours."
As I walked out of the studio that day, the Lord impressed me that He would give us that station. I walked rapidly to the my office and called my lawyer. I asked him to offer three hundred thousand dollars for the station to which he said, "Are you kidding?" I said, "I was never more serious in my life." I told him to offer just one thousand dollars as earnest money, cautioning him not to tell them who was buying the station.
I remind you that I didn't have any money at the time. Many of you will remember that we had just finalized a contract for one hundred thousand dollars for a broadcast on a Mexico border station which covered most of our nation and was being blessed of the Lord. (Mexico has since outlawed all religious programming.) This, of course, was a tremendous step of faith in itself, having to put up twenty-five thousand dollars every three months. But, oh, the letters and the testimonies!
In a few days, the lawyer said that he had a tentative contract for the 50,000 watt station for three hundred thousand dollars, with twenty-five thousand dollars earnest money. In no time at all, the Lord put into our hands the twenty-five thousand dollars, and in turn, it was put up for earnest money. The die was cast, the shore lines clipped, and the bridges burned. Another hundred thousand dollars had to be raised in three months and then the F.C.C. permit had to be given from Washington, D.C. God spoke to our friends.
The only thing personally I put into the station was five hundred dollars for five shares, and they were given to the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises. The Enterprises could not buy the station. Other Christian friends bought the remainder of the stock and we named the station K.C.T.A. (Know Christ The Answer). So, on October 23, 1959, at five o'clock in the morning, we went on the air singing "In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God still leads His dear children along." For two hours we testified and bragged on Jesus and praised His wonderful Name.
I feel like saying with Brother Paul, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." Romans 11:33-36.
The Alameda Baptist Church was a real project of faith. Some friends and I put up twenty-five hundred dollars on seventy-five thousand dollars' worth of land, ten and four-tenth acres, without a church, without an organization, and months later we started just a plain simple Bible church. In our first meeting that Sunday afternoon, October 24, 1954, under a tent at 3401 South Alameda Street, a little band of Christians gave hundreds of dollars to missions, which was their first offering. In a few weeks we started the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission, the first rescue mission in Corpus Christi, spending some five hundred dollars a month for the down-and-outs before we ever had a church building of any kind. But God gave us a beautiful brick building with a seating capacity of sixteen hundred. I preached grace and we majored in evangelism and God blessed.
Another work of faith was the City of Refuge, which was begun as an extension of the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission. It was a farm-type home for alcoholics, narcotic addicts, and people who needed spiritual help. Some friends who lived near Lexington, Texas let us use some property they owned there in the sand hills of Lee County. Without a stick of lumber or barbed wire fence or well of water or any sort of improvement, this city came into being. God vindicated this worthy cause, and some former alcoholics and drug addicts are now preaching the glorious Gospel of Christ that will deliver from alcohol, drugs and any other sinful habit. Since its beginning in 1956 this "City with a soul" has been moved three times, ending up in Corpus Christi on the People's Baptist Church property in 1979. Many men have come to this Home and have been taught the way of life and have "gone back another way."
The greatest step of faith concerning the ministry of the City of Refuge was when the Lord led us to move it to Culloden, Georgia. A friend in Atlanta, whose father-in-law had been delivered from alcoholism under our ministry, took me to see the place which was a beautiful 273-acre estate with a magnificent old antebellum home, a log cabin, a few other buildings, a lake and many stately pine trees. When I first saw it, I told my friend that it was "too rich for my blood." The selling price was $185,000. But the Lord reminded me that the greatest interest in our ministry at that time was from people and preachers who were located in that area of the country. I was traveling a lot and preaching in churches in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and the Carolinas. I could see it being used, not only for the alcoholics and narcotic addicts, but also for a beautiful place for preachers and friends and supporters who lived east of the Mississippi to come and join us for Bible Conferences and Camp Meetings. They would also be able to see that phase of the ministry firsthand.
But not wanting to go into a heavy indebtedness, I gave up and then God gave me the assurance that He did want us to have this place and assured me that it would be paid for in cash. The price had been lowered to $108,000. I went to the bank that was handling the estate and gave them five thousand dollars as a down payment. A radio station in Atlanta donated nine hours of radio time to tell of our burden and the need and by July 4, 1965 we lacked $38,000. On July 5 we owed $10,000, which was due on July 16.
We were holding a camp meeting on the property and many precious friends came with their tents, trailers and campers. I had asked the banker to bring the note on the property to the meeting, because I felt the Lord would provide the balance due so that we could burn the note at the noon meeting.
A man and his wife walked up to me and handed me a blank check that had been signed and said, "This is for whatever you still lack." We were debt free! I still remember what that dear couple said. "We believe this place must be debt free to set men free."
This was another reminder of the truth of the Scriptures that we had claimed so many times, "Now the just shall live by faith," and "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
The home for ladies, which is currently the Jubilee Home, was at one time a part of the City of Refuge. Even while it was located in Lexington, Texas, ladies who needed deliverance from alcohol and drugs were allowed to come. They were housed in separate dormitories from the men. At the time they were transferred to Corpus Christi, they were called "The Help-Hers Home", and later the name was changed to The Jubilee Home. Many of the ladies who came to this home experienced miraculous changes in their lives.
The Lighthouse for delinquent and drug addicted boys was also a project of faith that the Lord greatly blessed. It was started in the summer of 1958 forty miles down the Intracoastal Canal from Corpus Christi. The first few years it operated only during the summer months, but due to the increasing need of helping boys and young men on a continuing basis, it became a full-time ministry. The Lord continued to bless as more and more young men and boys came and were delivered from drugs and alcohol. Some were sent by judges and brought by probation officers. Many of these fellows who came as young men are now in full- time service for the Lord. Because of the wide range in the ages of the fellows who came, this home was eventually divided. The Anchor Home for Boys took in boys, age 9-17, and the Lighthouse continued with the young men ages 18-25.
The Anchor Home, originally known as the City of Refuge for Boys, was also relocated a few times, due to the donation of properties from friends of the ministry.
The Peaceful Valley Home, which was located amidst the citrus groves in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas was begun in 1964. This was a dream come true, to be able to provide a place for older Christians who had retired but had a desire to be in a community of other Christians and still be of use in a ministry, if only to be a prayer warrior for the other phases of the ministry.
One of the most well known and nationally-publicized homes the Lord led us to start is the Rebekah Home for Girls. It was begun in September, 1967 in the home of some dear friends in East Texas when they took in a teen-age unwed mother who had called us for help. More and more girls began to call and come, and within four months the home was moved to Corpus Christi. It, too, was in two locations before we purchased the property on Old Brownsville Road, which was also another tremendous step of faith.
Realizing the need for a permanent location for the Rebekah Home for Girls, we located a 79-acre tract of farm land a few miles out in the country west of Corpus Christi. The Lord impressed on my heart that this was the location He would have us purchase. The cost was $97,000. When our friend, Alfred Edge, a realtor, was instructed to contact the owner of the property, he asked me how we intended to pay for it. I immediately replied, "Cash!" When he asked me when we would have the money, I answered "September 1!" The Enterprises put up $5,000 earnest money and Alfred Edge deducted his commission. September was only three or four months away. We prayed. On September 1, 1968 a check in the amount of $84,373.76 was written to pay for the property where the first Rebekah Home dormitory would be built. Within a few years the Lord added more sections of adjoining property, totaling 557 acres.
The People's Baptist Church was organized in 1969. The first building that was built on the property that had been purchased for the Rebekah Home was a two story red barn for a cow, some goats and other farm animals. The second story was used for a hayloft. Since the Rebekah girls were living in house trailers at the time, there was no place for the church to meet, so the hay was cleared out, some carpet put down, and chairs put in the second floor of the barn. The People's Baptist Church met for services in the "Heavenly Hayloft" until the the last of June, 1970, at which time the first dormitory for the Rebekah girls was dedicated. Other dormitories were later built on the property, along with a church building, cafeteria, school building, and other buildings. Radio friends and supporters from several states came during their vacation times to construct the buildings. By the summer of 1979 the City of Refuge, the Help-Hers (now Jubilee Home for ladies), the big Lighthouse dormitory, and the Anchor Home for Boys were all located on this property.
Due to the restrictions of the State Welfare Department regarding taking care of unwed mothers in Texas, they were eventually moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to a dormitory we built there on property donated by a Christian friend in that area. This home was named Bethesda, which means House of Mercy.
The last big step of faith that I would like to share with you is the starting of Regeneration Reservation which ministers to and works with the American Indians.
In 1981, Mrs. Ann Murphy, a missionary who had worked among the American Indians for many years, had heard of our Homes in Corpus Christi and the Lord had used the ministry of the Homes to transform alcoholics and drug addicts into responsible citizens as they became Christians and submitted their lives to the Lord's leading. A majority of the people she had been working with were alcoholics. She came to visit and to see this work firsthand. After sharing her burden for these desperate people with me, I accepted her invitation to go and visit her mission field. Upon seeing these people, many of whom were in jail or were lying around on the ground drunk, I made the statement to her, "May God forgive me; I never knew this existed. We can and we must do something!"
I returned to Corpus Christi with a definite burden for these desperate people who are precious in God's sight. In February of 1982 the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises made a down payment on nearly 70 acres of land near the Apache Indian reservation at Fort Thomas, Arizona. This was named Regeneration Reservation and they continue to minister to all tribes of American Indians.
The radio ministry, the Family Altar Program, had also expanded to as many as 200 stations across the nation at one time. Again, I remind you of the wonderful way the Lord blessed the radio ministry and used it to raise up friends who were inspired to also trust the Lord by faith as they invested in lives by helping to provide the funds to build and operate the homes for people in trouble.
I do not know of a work in this land that is more worthy of your prayers and support than this ministry. We would like to say more, but it would take another book to write the glorious story of all the Lord has done through people and with people who have submitted to His leading by faith.
In closing, let me suggest that if you want to live by faith, don't run with infidels and people who question the Word of God. Second, read the Bible through every year. Third, practice and exercise your faith. Don't attend a cold, modernistic church. Keep your eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Memorize much of the Scripture and praise Jesus and testify for Him every day.
I find it as hard to stop writing as I did to start writing, but if this book has been a blessing to you, pass it on or get another one for a friend.
"Hold the fort, for I am coming,"
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven,
"By Thy grace we will."
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